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Snowmobilers must provide breath samples to police upon request, OPP say

Ontario Provincial Police say new legislation that allows police to request breath samples from motorists also applies to snowmobilers.

In December, new legislation went into effect that gives police officers the right to ask for a breath sample from any driver they lawfully stop.

Previously, officers had to have reasonable suspicion that a person had been drinking or was impaired.

OPP inspector Scott Hlady says that law applies to people driving a snowmobile. He says the change will make it easier for officers to determine if a snowmobiler has been drinking.

“It’s actually even harder to detect an odour of alcohol like we had to do in the past cause people have helmets over their head, the smell of snowmobile exhaust sometimes gets in the way so it’s really hard to detect the odour of alcohol,” he said.

“No alcohol or cannabis is acceptable.”

So far this season, OPP say there have been six fatalities involving snowmobiles.

They say two went through unsafe ice, one drove into open water and speed and alcohol use were factors in the others.    

Enforcement

Hlady says police have invested in upgrading the cameras on their planes and helicopters to do aerial patrolling through the seasons.

“So we have a piece of technology that allow us to track speeds on moving objects such as vehicles, or snow machines or boats or what have you,” he said.

“It records everything on video. Should we proceed to laying charges against somebody, that video would then be used as evidence in court.”

Hlady says police will use both the old and new technology to monitor the trails.

“One of the reasons we’re kind of thinking outside the box a little bit is just to get the message across that public safety is a priority for the OPP,” he said.

“That includes trails, our waterways and then anything that we have in northern Ontario.”

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